Virtual Reading Room

Our Virtual Reading Room (VRR) allows exploration of high quality digital versions of books and documents by registered users, as well as providing galleries of images for all to explore. To start the registration process please fill in the form below. There are a series of FAQs at the bottom of this page.

Highlights of the VRR include thousands of images featured in the Museum of English Rural Life galleries, as well as content from selected rare books and archives in the Special Collections. In the future we will be adding even more content such as motion picture film.

Access the Virtual Reading Room

In order to allow access to content while complying with data protection and copyright laws, access to most content requires completion of the reading room registration process. This is free and open to all, but can take a few days. Please begin the process by filling in the form below.

Virtual Reading Room FAQs

What can I see?

Not all our collections are available on the VRR. However, you can access thousands of items from the University of Reading’s Special Collections, Art Collections and Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL).

Is this the same as your catalogue?

No, but you can search our full catalogue here.

How do I register?

Registration is free and open to all. Please use the form above to start the registration process. Please note that this can take a few days.

I already use the physical Reading Room, Can I access the VRR as well?

If you have not registered (or re-registered) after 22 September 2020 then you will need to complete our new process by filling in the form above. You can also re-register during any physical visit to the Reading Room.

I am registered to use the VRR but I want to visit the physical Reading Room. Is it the same process?

You will need to produce identification on your first visit to the physical Reading Room. For details of how to plan a visit see here.

How do I log in?

After you register you will receive an automatic email (NB, this will be from This will enable you to set a password. Your username is the email address that you provide us with during registration.

Staff and students at the University of Reading will also receive an automatic email, but login will be via your University login and password. We will ask you to provide this at registration.

How can I use the content in the VRR?

Access to the gallery and theme pages is open to all without registration. Most of the images are protected by copyright and you must abide by all applicable copyright restrictions. If you wish to use or obtain or view a higher resolution version, please contact us.

Other content (i.e. accessible only by registered reading room users) may not reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, by any means, or for any purpose other than personal non-commercial research or private study.

If you wish to use content for any other purpose (e.g. teaching or publication) please fill in the enquiry form above.

How else can I gain access to collections online?

We make our collections accessible online in lots of ways. This guide explains how.

I am having trouble logging in

Please fill in the form above and we will get back to you as soon as we can.